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NRL Sneak Preview - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 18 May 2007 10:47:00 GMT
Four teams are on vacation in round 10 of the NRL while several clubs are without their preferred starting line-ups due to Origin duties. Which teams will be advantaged? Josh King previews all the upcoming action.

FRIDAY

DRAGONS v TITANS
WIN Stadium, 5.30pm
Referee: Tony Archer
GRL Tip: Dragons

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 1, Titans 1, Dragons 0
AT THIS VENUE: Never played here
POSITIONS: Titans 9th, Dragons 15th.
FIRST POINTSCORER FAVOURITES : Dean Young (Dragons), Wes Naiqama (Dragons), Mat Rogers (Titans) and Matt Petersen (Titans)

Both of these teams have only lost 1 star each to rep footy so the line-ups will be relatively untouched. Former teammates Matt Cooper (Dragons) and Luke Bailey (Titans) will re-unite in the Blues squad to play the Maroons on May 23.

Right now the Dragons are in a slump. They have yet to score back to back wins in 2007, lost 3 of their past 4 clashes at home this season and have regressed since their 2-point win over the Titans in round 1.

Under John Cartwright, the Gold Coast have won four of their first 9 games this year including a 28-16 win over last year’s premiers, Brisbane. They are traveling well for debutants and will run into this game with a lot more confidence on their shoulders.

But the Titans have however lost their last two away games, averaging 12-points on the road.

This is a very important fixture for the Dragons because their next three (Titans, Raiders and Broncos) are winnable and could turn their season around.

But they must learn to defend for 80 minutes. The Dragons are keen to make amends for last week’s sloppy effort so expect them to come out breathing fire instead of bubbles.

DRAGONS: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Wes Naiqama, Josh Morris, Dean Young, Mathew Head, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Jason Ryles (captain), Ashton Sims, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Danny Wicks, Corey Payne, Ben Ellis, Sam Isemonger, Corey Payne (one to be omitted) Coach: Nathan Brown

TITANS: Richie Mathers, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Jake Webster, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince (captain), Kris Kahler(captain), Nathan Friend, Brad Meyers, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichello, Luke Swain. Interchange:Michael Hodgson, James Stosic, Gavin Cooper, Clint Amos(. Coach: John Cartwright


SATURDAY

EELS v COWBOYS
Parramatta Stadium, 5.30pm
Referee: Shayne Hayne
GRL Tip: Eels

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 19, Eels 10, Cowboys 8, drew 1
AT THIS VENUE: Played 10, Eels 6, Cowboys 4
POSITIONS: Eels 10th, Cowboys 3rd.
FIRST POINTSCORER FAVOURITES: Krisnan Inu (Eels), Luke Burt (Eels), Matt Bowen (Cowboys) and Ashley Graham (Cowboys)

The Cowboys will be sufficiently weaker having lost the enterprising attacking leadership of Jonathan Thurston and the toughness of Jacob Lillyman due to representative duties.

But as Ray Cashmere proved with tyrannosaurus power against Luke Priddis last weekend, NQLD still have the bulls in their side to back-up.

The backline of the Cowboys is relatively unchanged which means they are still very potent. Both Bowens are the top two tryscorers for the Queenslanders having scored a total of 13 tries combined.

These two teams however are coming off losses.

Parramatta didn’t look like they were capable of scoring a lot of points last week and that was disappointing because heading into that game they scored on average 21.1 points and yet Manly won on 22.

In 2 of their last 3 clashes, the Eels have lead at half-time and gone on to lose. There is much for coach Michael Hagan to work on.

The last time the Cowboys lost (prior to round 9) they were unable to win the following week (Round 6 – 6-10 against the Rabbitohs). This is still a 50-50 game but Parramatta at home might just be a little hard to outmatch.

EELS: Luke Burt, Joel Reddy, Ben Smith, Krisnan Inu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (captain), PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Feleti Mateo, Ian Hindmarsh, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: Mark Riddell, Josh Cordoba, Zeb Taia, Chad Robinson, Junior Paulo (one to be omitted). Coach: Michael Hagan.

COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Scott Minto, Justin Smith, Jason Smith (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Ray Cashmere, Steve Southern, Scott Bolton, Sione Faumuina Interchange: Rod Jensen, Mark Henry, Sam Faust, Ben Vaeau, Ty Williams. Coach: Graham Murray

STORM V ROOSTERS
Olympic Park, 7.30pm
Referee: Gavin Badger
GRL Tip: Storm

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 14, Storm 7, Roosters 7
AT THIS VENUE: Played 8, Storm 5, Roosters 3
POSITIONS: Storm 2nd, Roosters 16th
FIRST POINTSCORER FAVOURITES: Israel Folau (Storm), Steve Turner (Storm), Joel Monaghan (Roosters) and John Williams (Roosters).

The Storm remain unbeaten at home in 2007 which might explain why the crowds continue to look impressive on television.

Braith Anasta – while in an underperforming side – is rated as the best five-eighth in the NRL at the moment and he will be a big loss for the Roosters.

His passing game will be missed sorely against a Storm outfit that still looks too strong on paper despite losing Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Dallas Johnson to Origin.

Sydney City have not beaten any teams in the top eight this season, have already used three pairs of halves (Aubusson/Lewis Anasta/Pearce and now Aubusson/Pearce) and like Broncos, the Dragons and the Raiders are struggling to put back to back wins together.

The Storm probably won’t win as easily as they did against the Dogs but they’ll still have enough experienced horses to gallop home in the end.

STORM: Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Will Chambers, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Matt Geyer, Cooper Cronk, Antonio Kaufusi, James Aubusson, Ben Cross, Michael Crocker, Ryan Hoffman, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Matt Bartlett, Jeff Lima, Ian Donnelly, Sika Manu, Scott Anderson, Garrett Grossman, Sam Tagataese (one to be omitted). Coach: Craig Bellamy

ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Mitchell Aubusson, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Shane Shackleton, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain),Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Mickey Paea, Lopini Paea, Nigel Plum, Setaimata Sa, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Coach: Chris Anderson

SUNDAY

WARRIORS V TIGERS
Mt Smart Stadium, 2:00pm (AEST)
Referee: Steve Clark
GRL Tip: Warriors

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 12, Warriors 6, Roosters 6
AT THIS VENUE: Played 8, Warriors 6, Tigers 2
POSITIONS: Warriors 5th, Tigers 6th
FIRST POINTSCORER FAVOURITES: Wade McKinnon (Warriors), Nathan Fien (Warriors),
Paul Whatuira (Tigers) and Chris Lawrence (Tigers)

The Warriors have three key players all returning from suspension in the form of Wade McKinnon, Michael Witt and Tony Martin.

However they’re up against an opposition that has beaten the Storm and the Bulldogs in their last 3 games.

To describe the Tigers bounce back from the brink of a football abyss as impressive is an understatement given they’ve achieved this without Benji Marshall.

I really believe star recruit John Morris has left a few critics with poached egg on their face.

Not only has he gradually grown into the role of halfback, he’s provided the Tigers with some calm direction not to mention plenty of confidence in his ability to keep the train on track.

The worst case scenario for the Tigers right now would be losing Morris to injury. That I believe could rip their season apart once again.

New Zealand are missing their inspirational captain Steve Price but have another great leader in former Kiwi captain Ruben Wiki.

These are two teams who haven’t been hurt greatly by Origin and all the signs are this game will go right down to the final play, something Warriors coach Ivan Cleary probably isn’t hoping for.

I think the Tigers can make it four from four with their new found self-belief, their speed and fitness and their slightly better discipline.

WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Michael Witt, Ruben Wiki (c), Nathan Fien, Sam Rapira, Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck Interchange: Sonny Fai, Lance Hohaia, Epalahame Lauaki, Corey Lawrie, Evarn Tuimavave Coach: Ivan Cleary

TIGERS: Brett Hodgson (c), Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, Liam Fulton, John Morris, Todd Payten, Robbie Farah, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Dene Halatau Interchange: Chris Lawrence, Ben Te'o, Bronson Harrison, Jarrod Saffy, Tevita Metuisela (one to be omitted) Coach: Tim Sheens

BULLDOGS v SHARKS
Telstra Stadium, 3:00pm
Referee: Ben Cummins
GRL Tip: Sharks

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 76, Bulldogs 46, Sharks 28
AT THIS VENUE: Played 3, Bulldogs 2, Sharks 1
POSITIONS: Bulldogs 11th, Sharks 4th
FIRST POINTSCORER FAVOURITES: Luke Patten (Bulldogs) Willie Tonga (Bulldogs), Brett Kearney (Sharks) and Ben Pomeroy (Sharks)

Are the Sharks cursed at Telstra Stadium? The statistics suggest they are as they have not scored a win at Telstra Stadium since their 28-12 victory over the Dragons back in 2000.

Their worst loss was prob - Read More, Here